A city started with a bear fight is a city to be admired


Yaroslavl: It All Started With a Bear FightYaroslavl: It All Started With a Bear Fight

Whether they realize it or not, anyone who has spent a few hours in Russia has glimpsed some of the sites of Yaroslavl. The luridly turquoise 1,000 ruble bank note features both ancient and modern vistas of the city, with the 17th-century, 15 onion-domed St. John the Baptist Church on one side and new buildings on the other.

Encountering this article from The Moscow Times earlier this morning had indeed been a pleasant surprise. It has attested to my strong belief that we can amass great knowledge if we bother – and in modernity, if we bother to click.

New knowledge for today: Interestingly, we have never paid much attention to pictures on rarely-seen foreign currencies. I have been toRussia and I have explored various great sights, but in all honesty, it must have been only a tiny star in the vast sea of knowledge that the formerSoviet Union is endowed with. This article has supplemented my understanding of the other states which I have missed on my previous trip.

Yaroslavl, literally Yaroslav’s, boasted profitable trade and flourished with culture and artistry. Historically,Yaroslavlhouses a monastery which many may have forgotten to be the first higher education institute inRussiaand the Volkov Drama Theatre which saw the first “Hamlet” in Russian production. As from the article,Yaroslavlis on the Golden Ring for tourists. Despite being a working city, I am definite that Yaroslavlis worth a one-day trip, even if it is to sit by a café to sketch the statue of Yaroslav the Wise. And as the article had suggested, this little story of Yaroslav disposing of the bear has given the city its symbol of attraction,

This brings me to the next point on Yaroslav, or whom I had initially known as Yaroslav I, grand Price of Rus’. It may be of interest to understand how a man who had waged war against his half brother or imprisoned and murdered his brothers may have been presented as a model of virtue and styled as “the Wise”.  Conversely, Yaroslav’s brother Sviatopolk was recognized for his cold-blooded vengeance and received a nickname of “Sviatopolk the Accursed” – who was later defeated by Yaroslav and his supporters. It amuses me how construct can be so important in the way we view history – two people could potentially do the very same thing and one be seen as a hero, the other an evil-doer.

I dedicate admiration to the city that has grown, revitalised itself and necessarily preserved the great culture and history of its past. But something to consider for history studies: have we been too confined by “norms” of society or what we conceive as “politically correct answers” to formulate our own opinions? Can we leave aside various prejudiced judgments and assess persons or situations on a case-by-case basic? An example would be – have we prescribed Sviatopolk the evil man status because of his assassination of his brother Boris, coupled with his failure against Yaroslav; while Yaroslav had been deemed the “the Wise” because of his manipulative efforts which rid him of opponents without direct involvement, and his ultimate success?  Or, might some of us have seen Yaroslav as a cruel man, disregarding the fact that some of his actions were impelled by circumstantial reasons?

Maybe it’s time to rethink our judgment.

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